Another barrier to large-scale adoption of health IT began crumbling in the past week when three dozen electronic health records and their component parts earned certification for meeting meaningful use standards.
Until now, the lack of certified products has hampered efforts by health care providers to adopt electronic records, say critics of the government's plan to transition away from paper files. Part of that plan involves disbursement of up to $27 billion in incentive money to hospitals and practitioners who become meaningful users of certified electronic records. The heretofore absence of certified products was symptomatic of an overly ambitious federal plan that called for doing too much too quickly, critics said.
The Drummond Group and the Certification Commission for Health IT (CCHIT) certified the products for Stage 1 compliance. (During the next few years, meaningful use criteria will become more rigorous as Stage 2 and Stage 3 standards take effect.) InfoGard Laboratories will certify health IT products, as well.
The first wave of certifications alters the regulatory landscape. With billions of dollars in incentive funds at stake, industry observers expect a surge in the number of companies seeking certification for their products.
Certifiers say they are ready.
"We have ramped up our testing capacity to accommodate the demand for ... certification," said Dr. Karen M. Bell, chairperson of CCHIT.